Me and Earl and the Dying Girl ★★★★

Crafted with intimacy, told with composure & made all the more heartwarming by wonderful performances from its cast, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is another unexpected delight of the year that surprises & stirs in equal doses, brims with a refreshing energy from beginning to end, and is a welcome addition to the coming-of-age dramas.

Based on the novel of the same name, the story of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl focuses on Gary, a high-school senior who spends most of his time making parodies of classic films with his partner, Earl, and has a very low opinion of himself. However, his perspective of life is altered when he befriends a classmate who's recently diagnosed with cancer.

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon in what is his sophomore effort & scripted by the novel's author himself, the movie opens on a predictable note but slowly & steadily manages to win the viewers' hearts, thanks to its excellent grip on storytelling elements & naturally building charm. While Gomez-Rejon keeps the tone lighthearted for the most part, he finishes it on a high with a gut-wrenching finale.

The short films parodying past cinematic gems is both amusing & admirable to look at, the stop-motion animation is another pleasing element, and these little stuffs offer more insight into the characters inhabiting the film, while adding something to the story that's entirely its own. Camerawork & editing work in tandem and its 105 minutes of runtime is aptly utilised. Music is in sync with unfolding events & is at its best during the climax.

Coming to the performances, the film features a young but promising cast in Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler & Olivia Cooke who play Greg, Earl & Rachel aka the dying girl, respectively. Each actor does justice to his or her part and it's a balanced performance from all three of them which only gets better as the story progresses. There are many long takes in the movie and these actors do a commendable job in those scenes by keeping their emotions in tune with the given situation.

On an overall scale, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a touching, heartfelt & poignant drama that packs in a lot of heart, warmth, laughs & tears, and saves its best segment for the final act. The story doesn't try to be pitiful or sappy because of a dying person in it, but attempts to show how laughter, comfort & companionship can at least ease all sorts of pain, if not cure it. The final climactic moment is mesmerising & heartbreaking at the same time but the epilogue makes sure that the story ends on a fitting note. Definitely recommended.

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